What You Should Know
Hygrocybe cantharellus is a gorgeous little waxy cap that features fairly dry surfaces, a (proportionally) long stem, a very finely scaly cap surface, and beautifully contrasting pale yellow gills that run down the stem. Since it is recorded from diverse ecosystems on five continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America), it is either extremely well-traveled or a group of closely related, morphologically similar species.
Although its common name suggests an affinity with the chanterelles, this mushroom has sharp-edged gills and not the blunt ridges characteristic of the chanterelles. Lincoff notes that this is one of the few hygrophori that grow on decaying wood.
Other names: Chanterelle Waxy Cap, Goblet Waxcap.
Hygrocybe cantharellus Mushroom Identification
Precise ecological role uncertain (see Lodge and collaborators, 2013); appearing in woods under hardwoods; growing gregariously or in loose troops; summer and fall; widely distributed east of the Great Plains.
6-20 mm across; broadly convex, with an inrolled and finely scalloped margin; dry or slightly tacky, but not slimy; bald or very finely fibrillose at first; when young scarlet to reddish-orange, with a yellowish margin; fading to orange or pale orange.
Running down the stem; nearly distant; thick; pale yellow; short-gills present.
30-70 mm long; 2-4 mm thick; equal; dry or slightly tacky; bald; scarlet to reddish-orange, with a yellowish base.
Yellowish to the orangish; firm.
Hygrocybe cantharellus Look-Alikes
Has a larger orange-red cap.
Has a scurfy reddish cap; it is usually a bit smaller than the Goblet Waxcap and its gills are adnate attached to the stem rather than being decurrent.
Hygrocybe cantharellus Taxonomy and Etymology
Described scientifically in 1822 by American mycologist Lewis David von Schweinitz (1780 - 1834), who named it Agaricus cantharellus, the Goblet Waxcap was transferred to the genus Hygrocybe in 1911 by another American, William Alphonso Murrill (1869 - 1957), whereupon it acquired its currently accepted scientific name Hygrocybe cantharellus.
Synonyms of Hygrocybe cantharellus include Hygrophorus cantharellus (Schwein.) Fr., Hygrophorus turundus var. lepidus Boud., and Hygrocybe lepida Arnolds, Pseudohygrocybe cantharellus.
The genus Hygrocybe is so named because fungi in this group are always very moist. Hygrocybe means 'watery head'. Canthar means a drinking cup and the suffix -ellus means diminutive; hence the specific epithet cantharellus means 'like a small drinking cup'. Some specimens do indeed become quite deeply infundibuliform (funnel-shaped) and look rather like chalices or goblets.
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